Saturday, 29 November 2008

Charlton 0-0 Southampton

For the first time in a long time, I actually enjoyed watching Charlton play this afternoon. I enjoyed cheering them onto the field, I enjoyed cheering them off at half time and I enjoyed cheering them off at full time. It was also a very refreshing change to not hear any boos around the stadium (except for those directed towards the referee) and to watch a team that actually looked like they knew what they were doing. Fair enough, we didn't win but we didn't lose and we didn't concede a goal, something we hadn't managed in thirteen previous games.

Parkinson's starting XI incorporated a number of changes from the one that took the field to QPR. Ensuring that there are no more than five loan players in the match squad is clearly a juggling act, and on this occasion Linvoy Primus and Martyn Waghorn made way. Fortune returned to the centre of defence, with Jay McEveley starting at left back. Mid-week goal scorer Thierry Racon was surprisingly dropped from the squad altogether with Bailey returning, and Deon Burton making his debut up front with Andy Gray.

The first half made for encouraging viewing and the Saints had Kelvin Davies to thank for a string of decent saves, especially from Deon Burton's overhead shot. In truth, we really should have gone into the break a goal to the good but a lack of cutting edge in the final third of the pitch, along with some dubious refereeing (the Southampton players' arms must have been invisible to Mr. Mathieson) meant that it remained deadlocked. The second half was a bit of a different story and in all honesty I think most fans would have been pleased with a point leaving the ground. The Saints piled forward and Nicky Weaver showed what he can do when on his day with a couple of decent saves.

Of the new boys, Jay McEveley had a decent enough game and I would imagine that Grant Basey and Kelly Youga will struggle to get a look in whilst he is still there. Keith Gillespie showed some good positional play but his legs clearly aren't what they used to be and by the time he was replaced by Lloyd Sam with about ten minutes to go, he looked like he had had enough. Deon Burton looked lively in the first half, with his overhead attempt being the obvious highlight. He was ineffective in the second period however and I really don't think he is the answer to our striking worries.

Of the rest, my man of the match award would be split between Mark Hudson and Jose Semedo. Hudson made some important clearances in the first half and clearly works better alongside Fortune than he does Primus. As for Semedo, why oh why was Pardew so reluctant to play him in central midfield? He showed why he shouldn't be wasted at right back with a great performance in the holding midfield role, making a number of good covering tackles. Weaver also deserves a mention for a solid performance, especially after the Sheffield United horror show of last week.

All the indications seem to be that the manager's job is Parkinson's if he can prove himself in the caretaker role. I've said before that I don't believe he is the man for the job, but I am happy to let him persuade me otherwise and today's performance went a little way to doing that. Fair enough, it's not like we played them off the park (and Southampton are not a great side) but the man isn't a miracle worker and after last weekend's debacle it was a great improvement. With Doncaster and Watford drawing, it's pretty much a case of as you were (although Forest did win) so there is still all to play for. I think I can actually enjoy my Saturday evening now having not watched another completely inept Charlton performance. More please!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Loan Athletic

What's going on?! The Championship has gone loan crazy and Charlton are at the heart of it. In addition to the recent arrival of Keith Gillespie from Sheffield United and Martyn Waghorn from Sunderland, Deon Burton has today signed temporarily from Sheffield Wednesday and Jay McEveley from Derby County, with Luke Varney going in the opposite direction to Pride Park. Blimey. So come Saturday, by my calculation we could end up with a team made up of 64% loanees. It would look something like this:

Weaver, Cranie, Hudson, Primus, McEveley, Gillespie, Racon, Semedo, Bouazza, Waghorn, Burton

I have to say I am very uneasy about all of this. Firstly, we don't have a permanent manager authorising all of these loans. If Parkinson is apparently getting so much say in the loan market, is this an indication he is in line for the job on a permanent basis? Secondly, the instability that loan signings brought last season appeared to contribute to a steady slide down the table and we can't afford it to have the same affect this time round. Thirdly, are the players we are bringing in actually of a decent calibre? I've heard Gillespie had a decent enough game against QPR, but Deon Burton? Seriously? A journeyman striker who seems to me like a poor man's Marcus Bent. Please somebody tell me something different!

Lastly, a word on Luke Varney. With his loan move being 'with a view to a permanent move', it looks like we may have seen him play his last game in a Charlton shirt. As with too many players who have played for Charlton recently, it's a case of what might have been. For all his enthusiasm and pace you never got the impression he was comfortable at this level (the misses against Burnley and QPR spring to mind). That said, a change of scenery (nearer to his native East Midlands) may do him some good and he'll probably do a Chris Iwelumo on us and start knocking them in for fun.

I won't lie, I'm really worried about what's going to happen on Saturday. We need a win very badly, but will all the new faces be able to gel in time?

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Respect And How Not To Earn It, Rooney Style.

We're well into November and with it, were seeing sides well bedded in and we've already seen our share of big matches in both the premiership and in the championship.

The other week when I was at home, it was the turn of Everton to entertain Manchester United at Goodison. Always a tasty fixture, this one proved to be no exception, thanks largely to the immature actions of the player that was once championed as the future of Everton FC. I remember speaking to my uncle when Rooney was just 12 and he was singing the boys name and telling me how he was the future of Everton etc etc.. I wonder; if I asked him today what he thought of the player-come turncoat, whether his answer would be complimentary. In fact, I wouldn't need to, his view is one shared by most Evertonians following Rooney's defection along the M62. That of embarrassment.

Listening to the match on the radio, Darren Fletcher split the Everton centre half's and slotted home. One-nil to the Mancs...but it wasn't just a goal, it got personal. Wayne Rooney, in front of the Gladwys Street faithful celebrated this goal by kissing the Manchester United badge and in doing establishing himself as one of the biggest twats in Merseyside's footballing history. Here was a Scouser, a lad born and bred in LIVERPOOL celebrating a goal against the club that made him who he was by kicking 40,000 people in the bollocks and kissing the badge of his new club and arch-rivals....

Listening to the call in following the match, there was consensus among the pundits and callers that Rooney was a complete and utter disgrace, to himself, to his family and to Liverpool as a city. I understand that he endured hell as he moved to Manchester United, but too be honest, it was one of the most controversial transfers in the last 30 years, and football in Liverpool is taken very seriously, probably too seriously if I'm honest with myself, and there were some shocking things said following his departure, many of which were said with emotion running high following the departure of the biggest talent in English football to an arch-rival and all this after him telling everyone that he was "once a blue, always a blue”.

I just couldn't understand why he'd bother to do something so stupid? And to piss off so many people? He's not a kid, he's a grown man, an adult, a role model (apparently)...but the one thing I don't think he is, is a Scouser. He may have been born within the city limits, and he might sound like a Scouser, but he lost all credit with me and with many Scousers following the videos on the internet and in the press of him singing "build a bonfire and put a Scouser at the top" alongside Gary Neville at a Manure Christmas party..."what a twat" I thought at the time and since, he's done nothing to change my opinion. In fact, he's just worked hard to cement himself as a twat and the badge-kissing in front of the Gladwys was just another incident in a long line that highlight everything that’s wrong with our society. Its no wonder the FA have to launch “respect the referee campaigns” when we have players like Rooney around, his actions on the pitch are appalling, insulting and unfortunately it doesn't look like a situation due to change any time soon.... well, not given Rooney's latest stunt.

Sadly, I also think the damage he has caused between himself and the people of the city is irreparable; I for one wouldn't have anything nice to say about him, and therefore using the morals and values that I were taught as a child, just wouldn't say anything at all.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Who's Next?

So, I wrote my match report on Saturday evening, closed my laptop and headed off to a friend's party trying to put Charlton related thoughts to the back of my mind so as not to dampen the mood. I was having a pretty decent evening and got chatting to a couple of Watford supporting friends about the plight of our clubs. They were big Boothroyd advocates and stressed that they were disappointed that he was no longer their manager before speculating who might replace him (I'm pretty sure Brendan Rodgers wasn't one of the names that came up). One of them then turned to me and said, "so, you must be pleased Pardew has gone?". "What?!". "Didn't you know? He's left by mutual consent". I didn't know, that was the first I had heard of it.

I always seem to hear about significant Charlton related news second hand. When Dowie got the boot, I was happily eating a bowl of coco pops when I got a call from a friend at the gym telling me to tune into Sky Sports. When we bid Les Reed farewell, I was out of the country snowboarding and got the news by text message. When Pardew was appointed, again it was a text message delivering the news. I never manage to find these things out myself! Anyway, this one was always coming but it was a bit of a shock to the system nevertheless. As many blogs have pointed out, Charlton fans are simply not used to this rate of managerial turnover.

I will look back on Pardew's time in charge in terms of what might have been. When he arrived almost two years ago I, like many others, felt that the board had finally got the right man after the disasterous tenures of Dowie and Reed. Whilst he could not keep us in the Premiership, I did not blame him for this given what he was left with. Last season started encouragingly but slipped away as Pardew's judgement got confused with too many loan signings and an all too frequently changing starting XI. The number of sales Pardew was forced to make over the summer I think took most by surprise, but the fact remains he failed to get the most out of a largely talented squad. I am sure it won't be too long before he is back in work, it's just a shame it didn't work out for him at Charlton.

We are now looking for what will be our fifth manager in just over two and half years and we absolutely can not afford to get this one wrong (witness Leicester last season). Organising and motivating a demoralised squad who have just been plunged into the Championship relegation zone is not an easy task and requires a steady hand. The speculation has already begun in the papers and on the blogs, most notably New York Addick's excellent piece (more) left no managerial stone unturned. To my mind, these are the main contenders and my thoughts on them:

Phil Parkinson - caretaker manager and if he gets a couple of good results against QPR and Southampton then he could provide the board with a particulary easy (and cheap) option. Like many of the Addickted though, I am against his permanent appointment. I think we need a completely fresh start and his involvement with the Pardew era would prevent that. His managerial record at Hull was also less than brilliant.

Mark Kinsella - see above. Reserves are also floundering this season.

Alan Curbishley - his name is the only one I read about in the papers this morning and he made sure he has cleverly failed to rule himself out of the job, despite commenting that he wanted his managerial return to be in the Premiership. There is no doubt in my mind that he would be able to sort out the mess we have found ourselves in. However, the consensus seems to be that his reappointment would represent a backwards step and a failure to sort out for ourselves as a club what has gone wrong. In addition, I would not wish his excellent reputation at the club to be tarnished by a disappointing second spell and would not consider him for the position.

Sam Allardyce - currently available and with an excellent record at both Notts County and Bolton (the jury is still out on his time at Newcastle in my opinion). He certainly would not bring 'sexy football' to The Valley, but he would bring considerable experience and a knack of turning out an organised side. His wages may be prohibitive however.

Billy Davies - knows the division and has a good Championship record at both Preston and Derby. Question marks remain over whether he would be the man to take us any further given his Premiership record with Derby, as well as the manner of his exit. Was also interviewed when Dowie was given the job, which by all accounts did not go as well as was hoped from either side's perspective.

Adrian Boothroyd - did brilliantly to get Watford to the Premiership but performances over the last couple of seasons haven't been too dissimilar to Charlton's and I have a nagging suspicion that this opportunity might have come too soon for him.

Gus Poyet - on the basis of his playing style and his television interviews, I like the guy and he appears to have the potential to be a good manager. Unfortunately he only has experience as a number two and there is no guarantee that being a good assistant means being a good supremo (ask Sammy Lee and Carlos Quieroz).

Lawrie Sanchez - not a option I had thought about until reading NYA's article but not a bad shout. Did very well at Wycombe and as national manager of Northern Ireland, before a short and undistinguished spell at Fulham. Out of work and available.

Plenty for the board to think about and having just written down most of the potential candidates, not a very easy decision at all. I'm not sure what timescale they have in mind for the appointment although I would have thought the new man would want to get his feet under the desk ASAP. All things considered, my preference would be for either Davies or Allardyce. I'm not sure Davies will come though after his previous experience with the club and I think Allardyce will cost too much money. Speculation is all well and good but for now though the focus needs to remain on getting something out of our next couple of games and giving the new manager, whoever it may be, the best possible starting position.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Charlton 2-5 Sheffield United

First things first, apologies for the lack of blogging recently. I started a job in Germany the week after the Barnsley game (shudder) and have been knee deep in bockwurst and financial statements since then, without too much time to get down my thoughts on Charlton's plight. Anyway, I was able to make it back for the game today with relatively high hopes given the encouraging reports I had read from the away games against Plymouth Argyle and Birmingham City. I should have known better really ...

Going to watch Charlton at the moment is akin to going to school knowing the chief bully is there waiting to nick your dinner money: you know it's going to happen, but you have to go anyway. This game proved to be no different and has left me thoroughly disillusioned and frustrated. When James Beattie's goal went in after seven minutes, you knew it was going to be 'one of those afternoons'. Linvoy Primus's header a little under ten minutes later offered some hope to The Valley faithful but once again we showed we are masters of throwing away any kind of promising position.

Two soft Sheffield United goals before half time left most wondering whether it was too early to leave with 45 minutes still to play. Those who decided to stick with it probably wished they hadn't after a calamitous Kelly Youga own goal and an excellent Alan Quinn strike within ten minutes of the restart turned a sound beating into a thrashing. Hameur Bouazza reduced the deficit shortly after but by then most of the crowd were either a) on their way home or b) calling for Pardew's head. Some sense of loyalty made me stay until the final whistle. We conjured up a few decent chances in that time without any end result.

So what to make of all this? For me, Pardew's position is untenable. We are now eight games without win, and for all his chopping and changing we look no closer to getting one. He looks short of ideas and the team look short of confidence, leadership and inspiration. I don't blame him for sticking with the same side today that took to the field at St. Andrew's, but how can the performance have differed so dramatically? Weaver's confidence looks shot to bits, there was little creativity in midfield and Andy Gray looked like a lost soul up front. Linvoy Primus was probably our best player on the pitch but that is hardly an accolade given the dross that surrounded him. What must Martyn Waghorn think he has got himself into? Left on the bench and thrown on when the game was dead and buried.

I've just read Pardew's post match interview. His assessment? "Bloody Awful". That is to put it mildly Alan. I honestly don't know where we go from this. Pardew seems intent on digging his heels in and the board don't have the b*llocks or, perhaps more accurately, the money to sack him. We are stuck between a large rock and a very hard place. I think that our next two games could be telling. I don't expect us to get anything out of the QPR game but I certainly do expect us to beat Southampton this time next week. If we don't, it's time for somebody to front up and do something about this because what I saw today was humiliating. Ideas anybody?!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Liverpool vs West Brom - A Match Report

One of the reasons for the lack of blogging from me lately has been the fact that I am in the process of moving down to the big smoke on a permanent basis....I know, I know...what the fuck am I thinking, leaving the north...where the sun shines all day, the beer is cheap and the ladies....well, the ladies are just stunning...even if you can't understand a word they say!!

Upon returning home last weekend and fed up of cleaning and moving shite out of my Everton Valley flat, I decided to go up to Anfield to watch us against West Brom. A quick shifty on a forum I frequent sorted my ticket, block 105 in the kop...that’s smack bang in the middle....happy days.

The 15 minute walk up to Anfield listening to terrace talk on radio city, with the legendary Ian St. John providing his me thinking...last year or the year before probably would have seen me nervous about this match. Probably because I would have seen it as a possible banana skin.... Not this time though. We are a different side this year, winning matches after a good or bad performance, rather than playing well but just not getting the right luck as has been the case in the past.

The big fat lady has shone on us with come from behind wins against the Man City and Wigan and a fortunate penalty against Athletico (ignoring the other two cast iron pens that were ignored by the ref though)....but this is what separates the best from the rest...its being able to get result after good and bad performances AND getting the luck as well.

So...getting back to the match.... Kick off came and went and too be honest we bossed it from start to finish. With the exception of Ismail Miller who had the better of Agger for much of the game, West Brom looked a poor side, devoid of any creativity....unlike their fans who provided Rafa Benitez with a difficult conundrum after about 60 minutes when they began chanting his name.... Rafa duly acknowledged the men from the midlands and continued to bark instructions from the touch line.

Liverpool won the game 3-0 with Robbie Keane netting his first two league goals in his red shirt. Thank fuck I said to myself when his first went in....only ten minutes before kick off I'd been on the phone to a match going red about his poor form in front of goal...."just fuck him off" was my mate’s quote, 20million pounds and he still can't score... I was also losing patience with Keane. It was a lesson for me though....a reminder to keep supporting the lads through thick and thin... Both goals were crackers and the second from a tight angle after rounding Scott Carson was Keane telling the crowd that he's back, and he means business.

Strikers are funny people...a bit like a bird who’s PMS’ing, always in need of reassurance that you love and support them....a bit mental (particular reference to Craig Bellamy threatening to take Jon Arne Riise's knee's away from him to site one example) and ridiculously fragile!!

Arbeloa finished off the match with a stunning strike into the top corner down at the kop end. Happy days.

A mad dash back to get out of my soaked clothes and into town for dinner with the missus and a few mates....this is what I’ll miss not living in Liverpool. Liverpool wouldn't be Liverpool without LFC....and I’ll have to get back home ad much as a I can to get my fix once I’m in London permanently.

Thoughts from 36,000 feet....

It’s been a while since I last blogged, a change of job, a new nephew, a hectic work schedule are amongst just a few of the things that have kept me away from the keyboard. However, cruising at 36,000ft en route to Valencia with a few mates, I decided to get some thoughts down on my laptop...

Since my last post a lot has happened in the footballing world too. The most concerning (and disappointing I think) has been the plight of the Addicks, who are at risk of establishing themselves firmly in the drop zone as we approach the busy Christmas period.

Things have gone from bad to worse in terms of results, but the big question is have the performances got any worse? The answer, from my perspective is no.

The gap between top and bottom in the Championship isn't huge and from where I see it, Charlton's last few results have been poor, but much of that has come down to lapses in concentration in the final quarter of the match. I'm the first to say that throwing away a two goal lead is unforgivable, but it doesn't take much to turn it around, the important thing is that the players believe and have the belief that THEY can do it, and that they have the support of the people. I'm not saying this with my rose tinted glasses on either, I know changes need to be made.

Starting with the manager, I really do think he needs to assess his position at the club and also his performance as manager. I have, on a number of occasions questioned his player purchases and I think he's made some major errors on that front. In addition to this, his player selection policy is nothing short of random. If Pardew wants to hold his head up high, he needs to admit fault for not managing the team how it needs to be managed. As a manager, he needs to motivate the players to believe they are the best....take David Moyes as an the 2005 season he managed to lead a very mediocre Everton team to 4th in the top flight of English football...and I really do believe it came down to his motivation of the players.....

Pushed to provide an answer as to whether I think Pards should go....I respond with the question who would you want instead? Dowie? You must be fucking joking. Keegan? No ta' mate, I'd rather eat my own arm than have him at the club. What about Aidy Boothroyd? But is he any better than Pardew? I'm not so sure he is. But then the questions is…. Is it just change we need? Look at what change has done for Spurs? I genuinely think we do need a change, but only if Pard's resigns, because the last thing we need is to be paying off another manager at the minute. Until he does resign, we need to continue to pledge our support to the players and urge them to keep their heads up high.... Fuck it only takes 4 or 5 wins on the trot and the whole season changes.... Take Sunderland last season as an example.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Charlton 1-3 Barnsley

Apologies for the delayed match report but I've needed a bit of time and a few stiff drinks to come to terms with what I (and 20,000 other poor souls) witnessed yesterday afternoon. As I stood in the pouring rain waiting for a train to take me back home, I could not remember a more miserable Charlton experience. When I thought things couldn't get much worse, a fan who I was chatting to told me that Southampton had won and that we were in the bottom three. Great stuff.

Like all the other blogs who have already expressed their thoughts, I don't really see much point in detailed review of the match. In summary: they scored after two minutes, got another two before half time when we couldn't muster a shot on goal, they protected their lead comfortably in the second half and we managed a goal which we hardly deserved and was hardly cheered. We were an utter shambles. Like the Inspector, I was pretty much ready to leave at half time but hung around in the hope of something which never came.

When people around you are literally laughing at the team's performance, you know something has gone badly wrong. Pardew's team selection was again changed although he could have put our the under-11's and they would have at least looked like they cared a bit. With the possible exception of Nicky Weaver (who I feel sorry for), I don't think I could pick out one player who played with any kind of urgency or desire to claw our way back into the game after we had gone a goal down. Barnsley are not a first rate team, but they were organised, committed and made us look stupid.

But wait folks ... according to Pards it's because Linvoy Primus wasn't fit. Once the 35 year old injury prone loanee is fit again, we'll be fine. Won't we? Pardew's book of excuses gets longer and longer. A couple of weeks ago it was because we were missing Zheng Zhi, then Todorov, and now Primus. The fact of the matter is, injuries or no injuries, Pardew has a squad at his disposal which should be capable of mounting a promotion challenge. To send out a team to put in a performance like that and serve up half baked excuses to the fans is frankly unacceptable.

It would be nice to think Pardew has a shred of professional integrity and would walk away from the job but judging my his comments he is not prepared to do that. What is clear is that one way or another we need a change because at the moment we are hurtling towards League One at a frightening rate of knots. This season can be salvaged but Pardew is not the man to do it. Sign me up for the Redvolution.